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Questions about NASA discovery of 54 “habitable” planets

For Star Trek fans, the idea of finding dozens of planets capable of supporting advanced life forms is a thrilling possibility.

Kepler-11 planetary system (NASA/Tim Pyle)

NASA’s Kepler mission recently discovered its first Earth-size planet candidates and its first candidates in the “habitable zone,” a region where liquid water could exist on a planet’s surface.

“The fact that we’ve found so many planet candidates in such a tiny fraction of the sky suggests there are countless planets orbiting sun-like stars in our galaxy,” said William Borucki of NASA’s Ames Research Center. “We went from zero to 68 Earth-sized planet candidates and zero to 54 candidates in the habitable zone, some of which could have moons with liquid water.”

The fact that these planets may contain water raises the prospect they could contain bacterial life – or even more advanced life forms. But one Christian astrophysicist is skeptical of reading too much into NASA’s announcement.

“Habitable zone is a bit of an overstatement,” says Hugh Ross Ph.D., the founder of Reasons to Believe. Dr. Ross explains that planets have previously been discovered that contain water – too much water. “They have 500 to 1,000 times as much water as Earth,” he notes. “When you have that much water, you don’t get continents above sea level.”
Mark Ellis is a senior correspondent for ASSIST News Service and the founder of  He is available to speak to groups about the plight of the church in restricted countries, to share stories and testimonies from the mission field, and to preach the gospel. E-mail :

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1 Comment

  1. Chris19990

    February 7, 2011 at 12:34 am

    Hugh Ross must be an idiot…Life will adopt to anything who knows how life might thrive under different conditions…we have recently discovered life on earth that prefers Arsenic instead of phosphorous… if i remembered right life started in the oceans here on earth…and there are extremely intelligent creatures that inhabit it (dolphins)

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